Eight transgender artists from Tamil Nadu are all set to feature their creations at an art exhibition curated by the University of South Florida. The event is called 'Visibility and Remembrance: Standing with the Trans Community' and it is curated by the varsity's Women and Gender Studies' department. One of the pieces belongs to an artist named Abinaya, who passed away last year due to health complications.
Along with her, other artists whose creations will be exhibited are that of Saji Varrier, A Rupakala, V Rambha, S Ramesh, Silky Prema, P Santhiya and Kalki Subramaniam. This will be conducted virtually on November 17, three days before the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 21.
'A Celebration Of Transgender Identity'
As the name suggests, the art exhibition's theme celebrates transgender identity in its most beautiful form. Along with her own, Kalki Subramaniam sent the seven other entries as well. Each of them took about four to five years to complete. All these artists are her students who she started teaching around four years ago.
"All these paintings talk about the beauty, the pride, individuality and the celebration of our identity. They all express the joy in diversity as well as the beauty, both inside and outside our community, along with our hopes and wishes," Subramaniam told The Logical Indian.
Each artwork was drawn in different circumstances. Abinaya's painting, called 'I Need You', expresses her wish that the transgender community be protected by all men and women. It was made in 2017. Subramaniam sent it for the exhibition to honour her memory. Her joy knew no bounds when her entry was selected. "I was so happy that I have given her the right tribute by recognising her talent and hard work," she said.
Another artist named P Santhiya made 'Queer Faces' in 2019 at an art workshop. Subramaniam created an artwork called 'I With In' in 2020.
For Subramaniam, there is nothing more powerful than art. "I chose painting because, for all other mediums, you need to learn a language. But, for art, it is just about colours. This is itself a universal language understood by anyone, right from somebody in Cairo, or someone in North Pole, somebody in Iceland or in Puerto Rico, anybody can understand a painting. Adding to this, she explained how art has been a healing experience for her. She said, "Our community is so vibrant, so dynamic, and so active. When they do art, it feels like they are zen. They forget their past, their future. It gives them the opportunity to live in the moment."
Wants To Start An Art School
Kalki Subramaniam dreams of starting an art school for the transgender community. She feels that this medium has given them a voice with which they can express themselves. In her hometown, Pollachi, she has a small gallery in her office. However, she needs a lot of financial support for the same. "We need funding support to start a transgender art school and an art gallery," she implored. Further, she hopes that the international recognition will help them raise awareness about the community and its issues and support their artwork.